EMU-aided product, inventor get national attention from QVC
EDITOR'S NOTE : For information about EMU's Center for Product Research and Development, go to www.emich.edu/cprd or call 734.487.2040.
YPSILANTI - Janet Brown-Smith describes h er QVC experience as a continuing, unbelievable "blur," but is quite clear about where it all started - Eastern Michigan University .
After a nationwide search among 5,000 inventors in 10 cities, QVC recently selected Brown-Smith, a hairdresser from Plymouth, as one of only 100 people whose product will get exposure in the QVC National Product Search. Her product, "Chase-it," is a toy for exercising pets, which is $24.95 and available at www.chaseitpettoys.com .
"I will be going on the air this summer to sell my product, thanks to the wonderful prototype design (of the handle) by EMU. The handle has made such a difference. It's not just another pet toy," said Brown-Smith.
Brown-Smith brought her idea to EMU's Center for Product Research and Development, which designed an ergonomic handle for her pet exercise toy.
"It's a long road to retail success and she's gotten the furthest of anyone (using the center) when it comes to consumer products," said Phil Rufe, an instructor with the center.
The toy has a handle on a fiberglass rod, covered with braided nylon, which is tethered to a rope with an attached stuffed animal at the end. Everyone can use the toy, including people in a wheelchair or anyone with difficulty gripping or arthritis, she said. By swinging the handle and twirling the rod, the toy moves causing animals to run and jump for the toy.
Brown-Smith's next step is to get 1,500 of her pet toys to QVC, which she says is the most stressful part of the marketing process. She said her QVC appearance will give her invention overnight exposure and hopefully help sales "take off." She currently has sold approximately 400 of the toys.
"It's a high-quality product," she said, pointing out that it has passed QVC's 200-lb. quality assurance crush test. "I'll let the nation find out about it on QVC."
Created in 2002, the center offers individuals and companies help with patent searches,
product design and prototypes for medical, electronic and mechanical devices. Its projects have included an idea that may save lives and another that saves time and energy.
Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their careers and lives, and to be better citizens.
Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.
Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.